An Open Letter To Ivanka Trump, Regarding a Certain Inheritance
To: Ivanka Trump
Somewhere in one of the Trump Towers
New York, NY
You probably don’t remember me. My name is Genevieve Field, and last year, I interviewed you over the phone for a magazine story* that had nothing to do with politics or your famous dad (he had not yet announced his run for the Republican nomination). You were intelligent and articulate, if playing it safe, delivering polished soundbites like, “Success is doing what you love,” and “We all have to architect the lives we want to live.” Definitely not the most illuminating interview I’ve ever conducted. But holy mother of two (which you were at the time), the photo that ran with it was a winner. Surveying your beloved Manhattan from a balcony at Trump Park Avenue, you looked like a Bond Girl before the fight, dazzling and impenetrable as diamonds.
Actually, you did say one revealing thing in our interview, but it didn’t make it into print. I had asked if you started Ivanka Trump, your clothing and accessories company, in order to break away from the family real estate business. You answered: “I was not motivated because I needed to make a name for myself. I was motivated opportunistically.” Italics mine. When you said that, I remember thinking, Nice! Not many women will admit to being opportunistic, even in business — but why shouldn’t we? This is the Land of Opportunity, after all. I also liked that you said, “The day [my daughter] Arabella was born reset my priorities. I became efficient in ways I never knew were possible — having a beautiful little person at home waiting for you will do that!”
It sure will. As a working mom myself, I would’ve loved to talk shop with you, but it seemed pretty clear that your domestic life was off limits for the purposes of our talk. I respected that. Since the whole election run-up, though, you’ve been much more public about your life with your children: Arabella, five; Joseph, three; and your new baby son, Theodore, eight months. And, judging by your Instagram, at least, you and Jared really do seem like devoted, loving, hands-on parents.
In fact, you seem so devoted to your family that it didn’t completely surprise me when you insisted on 60 Minutes recently that, beyond helping your dad choose his transition team, you will not be taking on an official role in his administration. Instead, you’ll be going back to your private role, supporting Donald as “a daughter.” To which I say, PERFECT. Because, here we go, Ivanka:
Only a daughter, and not just any daughter (no offense, Tiffany), but a 10-carat Daddy’s Girl–slash–proud opportunist such as yourself could possibly pull off the mission, er, miracle, er opportunity I have for y —
Don’t go! This won’t take long, I promise. I know you already have enough to do: running The Trump Organization, the Ivanka Trump line, your household, and now your dad’s public image. But what if I told you that what I want to talk about might actually save your children’s future — and put you in the history books, on the good side?
I have a friend, in Los Angeles, a single mom of two teenaged girls. My friend’s girls are, like the majority of millenials who voted in this election, supporters of the environment and human rights. So they were highly invested in Hillary for Prez; and, like those people waving signs and fists outside Trump Tower, the girls became deeply disturbed when that didn’t work out. The older daughter, 16, has been especially distraught, leaving her room only to drag herself to school. The other day, when my friend found her curled up on her bed, crying some more, she asked what was saddening her the most. Through sobs, her daughter wailed, “Climate change, Mom! Duh. It’s the only thing that’s irreversible!”
I know: Teens, so dramatic. But, indeed, she’s right. While many of your father’s proposed plans and Cabinet hires are deeply worrisome to many Americans, at least those decisions can be revisited and reversed in the future. But the president-elect’s stated plans — to let the fossil fuel industry pollute unchecked; roll back or disregard the Climate Action Plan, the Clean Power Plan, and the Paris Agreement; gut the Environmental Protection Agency; and perhaps worst of all, put fossil fuel lobbyist Myron “It’s Nothing to Worry About” Ebell in charge of our planet’s health at the EPA — will cause irreparable damage. Ivanka, maybe you don’t fully realize this (I didn’t!) but your dad’s plans don’t just threaten polar bears and distant generations of humans. In fact, your father is about to lock in a grim future for his own children and grandchildren — your beautiful family. And mine.
Believe me, I understand the urge to tune this stuff out. I’m a Democrat; a member of the media (though there’s nothing “elite” about me), and even I was sort of in denial about climate change until the day after your dad’s election, when climatologists informed the world that it was officially time to panic. To clarify, I wasn’t in denial about the existence of climate change. It’s just that all those headlines about melting icecaps made me feel so small and helpless that I stopped reading past them. And because I stopped paying attention, I didn’t realize how quickly it was all happening.
If you read no other sentence in this letter, Ivanka, please take note of this one: 2016 was Earth’s hottest year on record, and the hottest one before that was 2015, and the hottest before that was 2014. Fourteen of the 15 hottest years have occurred since 2000. This is not an aberration — this is it.
I’m assuming you’re looking forward to becoming a grandparent one day. Me too. So let’s fast forward to that would-be happy time. Arabella and Joseph and Theodore (and my two sons, Finneus and Oliver, too) will likely be starting families of their own sometime around mid-century. Let’s wish them luck! I live in a small (drought-ridden) California town now, but I’ve been pregnant in a New York City heat wave, and without getting into the gory details, it was downright dangerous. I wouldn’t want to be Arabella, trying to run The Trump Organization and grow a new life when summers are, thanks in part to her grandpa, one long heat wave — 5 degrees hotter, with twice as many days toppling 90. (I hate to say it just keeps getting worse, fast: By the time our grandkids are born, average temps will have ratcheted several more degrees. And on it will go.)
Here’s the thing: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, which draws from over 12,000 scientific analyses and is reviewed by over 3,000 leading scientists from around the world, if Donald slashes all the conservation measures in place today, the average global temperature will most certainly cross, by mid-century, what scientists universally consider to be the threshold of no return: Earth will be 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) hotter than it was in pre-Industrial times. (What does good old Myron have to say about all this heat? Two thumbs up! As he blogged in 2011, “Complementing the weak scientific case for alarm, many people have realized that warmer climates are more pleasant and healthier.”) He left out the resulting super droughts, surging sea levels and mass extinctions.
I wish the science were “weak,” I truly do. But the time for magical thinking has passed. As a concerned journalist and parent, I spent the last week reading the utterly terrifying IPCC report, cover to cover, as well as dozens of other non-partisan studies, reports and journal articles. And I can tell you that there’s nothing weak about the evidence before us.
At least our kids, yours and mine, are privileged. They won’t be among the millions of people in developing countries who — if we don’t continue to act on climate change — will no longer be able to work and grow food outdoors by 2100. But closer to home, do you know what’s particularly poignant? No more white Christmases. By mid century, most of the wet stuff that comes down (and there will be lots of it — major flooding on a regular basis) will be in the form of rain, not that beautiful, magical, fluffy-white goodness that kids in many parts of the world love to watch swirling outside their windows. Speaking of nice views, I bet you plan to leave a few of your stunning Manhattan properties to your children. Well, you might do them a favor and sell the towers instead — soon-ish. According to multiple analyses, one co-written by NASA scientists in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics this year, our unchecked burning of fossil fuels will result in a partially submerged New York City by the end of this century. Sorry, but plenty of the Trump Organization’s international properties will face daily high-tide flooding and eventual submersion, too: Miami, Rio de Janeiro, Panama City — swamped.
Now that you’ve read this far, I’ll get to that singular opportunity I mentioned earlier, which is actually three opportunities rolled into one. Should you accept the challenge, you will get to:
1. Follow your conscience, which feels really good.
2. Become revered around the world for being the woman who helped change The Donald’s mind about climate change. This will only make you richer, in every way.
3. Potentially make your dad a successful president.
But what do you actually have to do, you ask? Just one thing — something only you can do. Look into your father’s eyes and say, “Dad, as your daughter, who helped get you where you are today, I implore you to stop threatening my children’s inheritance.” Explain to him that by “inheritance,” you don’t just mean the soon-to-be-underwater Towers, but the whole caboodle, Earth. Then you’ll want to go ahead and propose a few no brainer alternatives to decimating our planet. Here are some talking points that may help:
10 Talking Points for the “Dad, Don’t Mess With Our Planet” Talk
Point 1: “Dad, our kids stand to lose everything we’ve worked so hard to build if you don’t start admitting, right now, that climate change is real.”
Point 2: “Actually, climate change does affect the Trumps. I’ve had my team examine the data, and it’s not just liberal propaganda designed to kill coal workers’ jobs. It’s real, and leading scientists from around the world predict with high certainty that if you don’t get on board to fight it, the kids and I will be forced to endure climate conditions not previously experienced by any human civilization.
Point 3: “What if I told you that many of our waterfront properties stand to be destroyed by flooding within the next 50 to 75 years?”
Point 4: “No, it’s not too late. Look at this scientific journal article I printed out for you, signed by all these heavy hitter science geniuses at top Ivy League universities. See, it says right here that we have “a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change.”
Point 5: “Good, now pick up the phone and call Myron Ebell. Tell him he’s fired, you’re putting an actual grownup on duty at the EPA — which, by the way, far more Americans trust over Congress to deal with pollution, so you won’t be gutting it.”
Point 6: “Believe it or not, your constituents do care about climate change. Look at this survey by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research: Sixty-five percent of Americans want their government, preferably via the EPA, to address this mess! Not to mention all those treehuggers at the U.S. Department of Defense. You want them to like you, don’t you?”
Point 7: “Who’s better than Myron? Anyone! Call Christine Whitman, George W.’s EPA chief, or William Ruckelshaus, the EPA guy under Nixon and Reagan. They’ll hook you up with some ideas for a good solid conservative candidate who also cares about Barron’s future.”
Point 8: “I know you told the natural gas people and the coal people you’d save all their jobs, but you can’t have it both ways. The two fuels are in direct competition with each other to light our households, and there’s not enough demand for both. If you scrap the Clean Power Plan, you might get some coal jobs back, but you’ll hurt the natural gas workers. And you really shouldn’t do that. Why? Well, forget that natural gas is cheaper and produces half the carbon pollution of coal. You can’t do it because we all know coal is the lame horse in this race. And we don’t bet on losers.”
Point 9: “Of course I care about the coal miners; I’m not heartless. But look at this way: At its peak in the 1920s, the coal mining industry employed fewer than a million workers. Do you know how many people are employed in the clean energy sector today? More than eight million people. There are now more jobs in solar than in oil, gas, and coal combined. If you really want to help the coal workers, the Harvard Business Review says you should retrain them to do solar jobs. At the very least, I hate to say it, you should continue funding the job training programs Obama has already put in place for these everyday heroes.
Point 10: “And that, Dad, is how you make America great!”
Or somesuch. Ivanka, I’ll leave it to you to find the right words for closing this very, very important deal.
Genevieve Field, American Mom
*The views I express here do not necessarily reflect those of the publications I contribute to.